Editor's Note: After more than a year of outside investigation, a report has been released surrounding claims of sexual harassment and overall workplace cultural issues within the Illinois House of Representatives, Office of the Speaker. This is Part 5 of a report on the 202-page document.
At a June 6, 2018, press conference in Chicago, account technician Sherri Garrett made several allegations against Timothy Mapes, who was – at the time – the Chief of Staff for the Illinois Speaker’s Office, Clerk of the House and Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Illinois (DPI).
“Over the course of the last several years, I have endured and have personally witnessed bullying and repeated harassment that was often sexual and sexist in nature in my workplace…” stated Garrett, as noted in the report.
“Tim Mapes, Chief of Staff to Speaker Madigan, has made repeated inappropriate comments to me and around me, both in the office and on the House floor.
“I am speaking out because victims of harassment like me, men and women alike, just want to go to work, we want to do our jobs with dignity, and we want to go home at the end of our day, but instead, we have a culture of sexism, harassment, and bullying that creates an incredibly difficult work environment.”
Later that same day, Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) announced that, at his direction, Mapes had resigned from all of his positions.
Garrett worked in the Speaker’s Office for decades and worked on the Issues Development staff in the 1980s. Throughout the relevant periods of the investigation she was an account technician before retiring at the end of December 2018.
Mapes also worked for the Speaker’s Office for decades. He became the Chief of Staff in 1992 and the Clerk of the House in 2011.
“As the Chief of Staff, Mr. Mapes technically oversaw all Speaker’s Office workers, including workers on the Speaker’s Staff and in the Clerk’s Office,” according to the report. “Mr. Mapes interacted with a handful of workers daily...”
The report, conducted by Maggie Hickey and her Schiff Hardin LLP investigative team, sought out specifically to review workplace discrimination and harassment within the Illinois House.
“To investigate Ms. Garrett’s allegations, Ms. Hickey and her investigative team reviewed emails, among other things,” the report states. “Ms. Hickey also interviewed over 100 people who work or have worked in the Capitol workplace, including Ms. Garrett. Many people had direct knowledge of Ms. Garrett’s claims, and others reported having similar experiences with Mr. Mapes.”
The report also states that Hickey contacted Mapes’s attorney regarding the allegations but he declined to interview.
Among Garrett’s many claims of sexual harassment and workplace intimidation, she also alleged that Mapes had “an inordinate amount of power in the State” and had too much authority over harassment complaints, according to the report.
During Hickey’s interviews a number of witnesses – workers of different categories throughout the House – expressed the similar concern that Mapes could affect their employment status and future opportunities.
“Mr. Mapes held substantial actual and perceived authority over the lives of the people in the Speaker’s Office, the Democratic Caucus, and the Capitol workplace overall,” reads the report. “Mr. Mapes used fear to motivate. Whether he intended it or not, many workers said that Mr. Mapes caused them to believe that they were easily replaceable, and therefore, they made sure not to make waves, even if they would have had workplace harassment concerns that they believed warranted attention.”
The consistent witness testimony regarding Mapes led the investigative team to believe Garrett’s accusations despite not being able to prove all of them. In conclusion, the report states:
“Overall, we found Ms. Garrett to be credible, and most of her factual claims were corroborated by other witnesses,” the report reads. “Although there were some differences of interpretation, witnesses who were present during the events corroborated her accounts of Mr. Mapes’s behavior. Mr. Mapes chose not to interview with Ms. Hickey, and thus, he did not contest or clarify the interpretation of events we received…
“Since Mr. Mapes has resigned from all his positions connected to the Speaker’s Office and DPI, we do not need to make any recommendations regarding his employment. Nonetheless, several workers said that they continue to fear that Mr. Mapes will return to the Speaker’s Office—even if not as an official worker—and have influence over their workplace.
“While the Speaker’s Office has limited control over non-workers, we recommend that the Speaker’s Office monitor these concerns. Ultimately, the best way for the Speaker’s Office to mitigate these concerns is to keep, gain, or regain the trust of its workers in its management, its reporting mechanisms, and its overall workplace.”